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Carson student heading to Dartmouth returns to grade school to inspire

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 2:41 PM PDT
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Carson High School Senior Cristian Garcia Perez never believed that he would leave Carson City in order to attend an Ivy League university. However, this August he will be headed to Hanover, New Hampshire where he will be attending Dartmouth College with a scholarship covering nearly all tuition and expenses. This year, Dartmouth’s acceptance rate was only 6%, making it one of the most competitive schools in the nation.

It is uncommon for a Carson City student to be accepted at an Ivy League school, let alone be granted a large scholarship to do so. He has also received offers at many other top universities including: University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania (5% acceptance rate), Cornell, Carleton, Vanderbilt, Duke (4% acceptance rate) and several others. His scholarship covers all but $3,000 and travel expenses, but he has been fervently applying to every scholarship he can find to cover the difference.

“I went from last year, planning on heading to Western Nevada College or maybe even just straight to work, to accomplishing all of this,” Cristian, an Advance Placement (AP) student with a GPA of 5.1, said. “It’s honestly really emotional because I always felt like I was just a mediocre kid, but this has changed my entire perspective.”

Cristian grew up in the Carson City School District, entering school as an English Language Learner at Empire Elementary School, which is just blocks from the apartment where he lives with his mother Paula, a homemaker, his father, Crispin, a flooring installer and his younger brother, Alexis. As a first generation American and college student, Cristian lives in a neighborhood often underrepresented in the college system. His mission is to empower other students in Carson City to not give up on what their future could be.

“I really hope other students like myself can learn to not limit themselves and become discouraged,” he said. “I get sad thinking about people who are like me but did not have the same adult guidance at school that I was able to receive. I want to help others in my neighborhood to see that they have so many opportunities for the future.”

Cristian plans to speak to students at Empire Elementary School next month along with his school counselor in order to work towards his mission.

“My parents never received the opportunity to attend college, and going to Dartmouth seemed overwhelming to all of us at first,” he continued. “I was fortunate enough to receive a large scholarship, and my parents have met with my school counselor to talk about the process as well.”

At Carson High School, Cristian has taken numerous AP courses, has been an active member of many sports teams and clubs and has participated in the Health Science program including their student organization HOSA, said Bridget Gordon-Johnson, Cristian’s Carson High School Counselor.

“In Spanish, the word “ganas” means an incredible self-drive and tenacity to succeed,” Gordon-Johnson continued. “Cristian is the embodiment of this idea. No matter where his future takes him, this opportunity will allow him to make an incredible impact on his family and the community.”

To help Garcia financially throughout his college journey, you can donate to his GoFundMe page.

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